There’s no doubt in my mind that Connor McDavid is the best player in the NHL. He consistently the most electrifying player on the ice regardless of the opponent. With that said, can he realistically win the Hart Trophy if the Oilers finish around the 70 point mark?
There is a sound argument FOR McDavid to win the award. There have been many nights where he’s appeared to be the only Oilers interested in competing and he’s managed to stay in the NHL’s scoring race despite being on a lottery team. You could say that he doesn’t deserve to be punished for the incompetence around him, and that’s fair.
On the flip side, you could argue that while McDavid was valuable to his team, he wasn’t valuable to any sort of team success, because there was nothing successful about this Oilers season.
The last time a player won the Hart Trophy and missed the playoffs in the same year was the 1987-88 season when Mario Lemieux was named MVP despite the Penguins missing the playoffs. Still, the Pens only missed by two points and Lemieux’s 70 goals were 14 ahead of second place, while his 168 points were 19 ahead of Wayne Gretzky. He had a dominant year for a team that was in the playoff picture.
The comparison isn’t great because of the way the game is played now and how many goals are scored when compared to 1987, but it would take a miracle for the Oilers to even get close to the playoff conversation and while McDavid is having a great year, his season simply hasn’t been head and shoulders above everyone some other players.
There’s no doubt that Connor McDavid will be in the conversation for the Hart, but I believe that there may be some players more deserving of the award, simply because their efforts have led their teams to playoff races.
Nathan MacKinnon has led the Avalanche jump from the basement to a playoff race and despite being hurt for a few weeks, he’s still 13th in points.
Blake Wheeler is having a career year out in Winnipeg and the Jets are one of the best teams in the west. He also stepped up in a big way when Mark Scheifele went down with an injury.
It seems like every time the New Jersey Devils win, Taylor Hall is scoring goals. He’s on a 23-game point streak and is clearly the biggest reason why the Devils are in the playoff race.
I could keep going on with some of the names out of Tampa, Johnny Gaudreau and more. The point is, there are plenty of players who could be MVP candidates with their teams in the hunt for the playoffs, which is something Connor McDavid can’t say.
Like I said earlier, there’s no doubt McDavid is either the best or one of the best players in the NHL. But in a year where the Oilers have struggled so much, he and the team will likely have to go on a historic tear if he wants a legitimate chance to win the Hart Trophy.